From the moment I boarded the Aer Lingus plane to Shannon I could instantly tell that the people in this country are so much friendlier and welcoming than citizens in America usually are to tourists. It also seemed as though the citizens of Ireland lookout for the people around them no matter what; It is kind of like everyone is living by the Bible verse “Love thy neighbor.” When I was walking on the street or eating out at a pub – everyone greeted me with a friendly face and a sincere, “Hello!” I could tell that the quality of life in Ireland is dramatically more important than materialism. What I mean by this is, in America, people tend to obsess over landing jobs that make them the most money even if they are unhappy for the rest of their lives, but in Ireland, that barely matters. An example of this lifestyle can be found on the island of Inisheer where there is a 69-year-old woman named Mairéad Sharry who spends her days spinning wool, weaving, felting and making baskets in her hundred year old cottage. In this cottage there is a traditional open fire in the fireplace where she can cook bread or make tea. Also, there was no running water or electricity in this house until the late 1970s, and electricity was only added so that Mairéad could plug in and use her sewing machine.
Not only is there a great sense of community in Ireland as a whole, but there is also a whole eco-village of people in Cloughjordan that bring that term to the next level. These people have all vowed to share their yards, talents, fresh vegetables from their garden, etc., with the people around them. Also, they all know each other’s names, their kids names, and their personal stories which made it feel as though they were all a family that came together to live on the same 67 acres of land. Together, they have made a difference and created a community that has the lowest measured ecological footprint in all of Ireland at 2 global hectares.
According to Iva Pocock of The Irish Times, “The average for 79 other settlements included in the study was 4.3 global hectares.” Although the eco-village is still figuring things out and working through some kinks in the system, they are already making a difference, and are doing it by coming together as a community to make our planet a better and more sustainable place. This shows that when people come together we can accomplish anything, and I truly believe that in order to make a difference in America we need to come together just as the citizens of this eco-village have, and start to lookout for not only each other, but for our Earth.